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|| News Item: Posted 1999-03-07

NCAA Strobe Policy
By Porter Binks

Porter Binks, SI's college basketball picture editor has broken down the NCAA Tournament strobe policy for Sports Shooter. Porter serves as the strobe pool coordinator for the NCAA Tournament.

If you are working for a paper in a host city of ANY of the tournament games or would like to be involved in the newspaper strobe pool, make sure you con tact Porter ASAP, 212-522-3325.

Here is a breakdown on strobes for the tournament:
Three sets of lights are allowed during the NCAA tournament. Set #1 is used by SI; Set #2 by AP, USA TODAY, Reuters; and Set #3 by the Newspaper Pool, or essentially everyone else. Since newspapers, and, for that matter, other magazines and Allsport fall into the Set #3 category, I'll outline the some basic rules we follow:

Once you know where your team is headed, you can call me (212-522-3325) and I'll tell you who is installing lights at the various arenas you might be going to. You'll have to tell me what games you want to cover where, and I'll log it in and let that pool person know you asked to be on the lights. I will probably pass you directly on to the pool person.

If you already have lights installed at a tourney site, and you are definitely credentialed and want to serve as a pool set of lights (either set #2 or #3), let me know that early. I try and make sure the local newspaper gets first shot at the newspaper pool set since it's usually
their house.

Please do not contract with others (NBA, etc) to rent their lights without getting clearance. You may be able to rent lights, but all sets are pooled except Set 1. So if you are obligated to be the pool, you must share.

You need to request lights for your first and second round and regional games on this schedule: If your are in a Thursday-Saturday game, I, or the pool person, needs to hear from you by Tuesday morning. If you're a Friday-Sunday game, call by Wednesday morning. I'll put you in touch with the right person. No walk-ins allowed. Its unfair to the others who called to reserve their time.

Be prepared to pay some kind of fee. Where lights are rented (this year: Boston & Milwaukee) rather than installed, the fee is set by the arena and you simply pay a share for your time on the lights. Where the lights are installed by whoever is providing a pool set, those costs too must be shared, and they vary by arena (union or non-union, electrician's
fees, material, etc.). Where we are simply using the lights already installed permanently for the year, I the news agency not to request an outlandish fee for rental since little work had to be done.

The pool system is simple. In a 40 minute game, if five newspapers want into the pool, they each get eight minutes. That is if you use the strobes full court (shooting short and long). However, if you decide the split the court in half, with two papers using the lights when the ball is in their half of the court, that eight minutes becomes 16 minutes. Of course, the more newspapers in the pool, the less time each gets; the fewer the requests, just the reverse.

There are a few other guidelines that help make the pool run smoothly:
-No student or booster publications are allowed in the pool.
-Photog shooting for the local tourney folks can have some time during timeouts to get their signage, court setup, etc., for the committee. But they aren't allowed to shoot game action on the strobes.
-The publication has to be on deadline, and that simply means they aren't shooting stock.
-And they have to be shooting for publication in color.

This is a really basic outline of the newspaper pool system. I'll be glad to explain things that aren't clear, answer questions, and take suggestions.

Now, for the record, here's how the rules read from the NCAA rulebook: The Division I Men's Basketball Committee has determined that a maximum of three sets of strobe lights may be installed at an arena for media agencies requiring immediate news coverage.

The placement of the units must be approved by the NCAA.

1. The following priorities have been adopted by the committee:

A. Sports Illustrated.

B. The Associated Press, Reuters and the USA Today newspaper. These media agencies shall pool one set of strobe lights unless Priority "a" or "c" is not enacted.

C. A single pool unit for all other media agencies may be installed upon the approval of the NCAA.

D. The College Basketball Picture Editor at Sports Illustrated (Porter Binks, 212-522-3325) will coordinate the installation of the strobe units at each site and identify for the media coordinator those photographers who will utilize the strobes. Each agency participating in the pool will be charged a prorated share of the installation cost to participate.

E. Should Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press, Reuters or USA Today elect not to install strobe units, the unused priority may be transferred to another agency, provided the policies in No. 2 below are observed.

F. No single agency may install more than one set of strobes at a site, regardless of the number of units that will be utilized.

2. The following procedures govern the placement of the strobe units:

A. Representatives of each media agency installing a unit shall meet with the media coordinator and CBS producer assigned to the site at 4:30 p.m. local time on the open practice day to test the placement of the strobes and determine if the strobes potentially have a negative impact on the telecast. The basketball committee representatives has the final authority to determine if adjustments in the placement or angle of the units must be altered.

B. Strobes may only be utilized if approved by the basketball committee representative after the forgoing test.

C. All hanging or installed strobes must be placed as close to the playing court as possible depending upon the physical structure of the arena,near the corners of the playing court, but not behind the baskets. If the physical structure of an arena prevents a media agency from meeting these specifications, the agency may petition the basketball committee for an exception.

D. No hand-carried strobe lights are permitted in the arena.

E. No strobes may be directed toward a television lens.

F. The strobe unit may not exceed four clusters of strobe lights producing a maximum of 3,200-watt seconds at any tournament site. All strobes must flash at a duration less than 1/2000 of a second.

G. The strobe unit is not available for photographers who have been assigned feature profiles for current or future publications; e.g., a photograph(s) of a player, coach or fan; any book on the sport, tournament or a player, coach or fan, or a magazine desiring photographs for the next season's preview, etc.

Contents copyright 2021, Do not republish without permission.
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